Academic Programs


Ti:Sapphire lab
Camille Burnett ’01 and Ricky Joshi ’01 at work in Professor Bolton’s Ti:Sapphire lab.

The Williams College Department of Physics offers courses at several levels to students interested in studying the physical phenomena and theories that underlie our present science and technology.

We are particularly proud of our tutorial courses, in which students meet two at a time with their professor to present their solutions to challenging problems. Chronicle of Higher Education article on Williams tutorials (pdf)


Our department offers two majors, the Physics major and the Astrophysics major. Students who elect to major in Physics find that the foundation in fundamental principles and experimental techniques obtained here is excellent preparation for graduate work in the pure or applied sciences, engineering, other professional fields, or for direct entry into the job market.

The Astronomy Department and the Physics Department jointly offer the Astrophysics major. It includes about two-thirds of the courses required for the Physics major, as well as an introductory astronomy course and upper-level astronomy courses.


Both majors include a strong emphasis on undergraduate participation in ongoing faculty research. All of the physics faculty have active research programs. Since our department has no graduate students, our undergraduate students work directly with faculty members as research collaborators during the January Winter Study Period, during the regular semesters, and during summers. Department funds and outside research grants provide several stipends each summer to support students working on research projects. Qualified senior majors have the opportunity to do an honors thesis project under faculty supervision.

Pre-Engineering Advising

Several students have found that the Physics major provides an excellent background for graduate study in engineering. The pre-engineering advisor helps students who are interested in careers in engineering plan their courses of study.